The Librarian is a complex being. Sage and sweet when curled up with a book and blanket under his desk, yet likely to go ‘Librarian poo’ at the mention of the ‘M’ word’ or any student who fails to return their books in a timely fashion. He is as likely to tenderly dust an ancient magical tome as he is to hurl a grown man in a bar fight at the Mended Drum.
While he speaks only using varied inflections of ‘Ook’ the Librarian is often, and somewhat ironically, the ‘voice’ of reason when the midden hits the windmill on Discworld. He is a key protagonist in ensuring the right action is taken when needed, despite his associates at Unseen University!
The Librarian is also variously a member of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch, keyboardist for The Band With Rocks In and UU organist and goal keeper, not to mention Best Man at the wedding of Verence and Magrat in Lords and Ladies… capturing this multi-faceted great ape would prove a challenge, but thankfully it didn’t send us bananas!
Some years ago, Emporium MD and designer Ian Mitchell visited Monkey World in Dorset, armed with sculpting tools and a lump of wax with the intention of capturing a likeness for a possible Librarian piece. A female orang-utan sat down behind the glass of the enclosure and copied his sculpting motions with a twig. Although the project was put on the back burner to focus on our book projects with Terry, the experience provided an unforgettable insight into the nature and appearance of our hominid friends, and fuelled our desire to create a ‘real’ orang-utan.
We were delighted that Rich Kingston of Young Rascal Design once again stepped on board to realise our vision, and to continue our range of Discworld figurines in his style. The result is a handsome hominid sitting deep in thought, a banana grasped in his foot, and a hefty magical tome draped with a banana skin marker nestled in his lap. The placement of the hand around his chin suggests we could be witnessing a great mind in the midst of solving a world-threatening conundrum, while it’s easy to imagine him nestled underneath his desk in the UU surrounded by books.
Plotting out the hair, positioning the book, and perfecting the face.
“Plop” as if by magic, another Emporium sculpture brief appeared in my inbox. I took a deep breath and opened the PDF. The Librarian? Right. Um . . . where do you begin with a once human who was turned into an orang-utan by a magical accident? His face. Always start with the face. A few hours of smudging and smearing around a couple of ball bearings for eyes and his presence was felt. That wise, knowing look glared back at me from the back of an old CD case. It felt like I was on to something. This should be easy!
Little did I know that the Librarian would be the most complex and testing piece of sculpture that I had undertaken to date. My previous sculpture of The Death of Rats flowed gothic -like, while the Luggage grinned at you with his many curves and angles. So how could I combine the styles to keep things fluid and make him look authentic? It took many attempts to get his pose correct (moving lumps of wax for limbs to various positions), but when the bulked rough of a book was placed between his feet, everything fell into place.
The book was especially tricky. Sculpting something that intricate and small with fingers the size of a large portion of Dibbler’s sausages was a tough one, but I managed it, and gently placed it in the correct position – accompanied with a couple of pages of copy for good measure – ready for his arms and feet to be sculpted and attached to it. Then came his hair. Long strands of individual hair, hanging off his inner-tube arms and orange sized body. Add some fingers, toes, banana and a chain, a few wrinkles, give everything a final smooth down with lighter fluid and there he was, Ooking at me.
As I said, this piece took some serious doing. But it is without doubt, one of my all time favourites. The way his hand holds his chin while those dark old eyes stare at you, just makes it for me. You can almost hear him thinking. And, if you look really closely, a sculptor’s name is just and just eligible on a page of the book. Thankfully, it isn’t involved with anything too heavily spell related, as I can still type while in the form of a newt.”
The finished wax sculpture, ready to go under rubber at our casting house.
Casting is as much an art as sculpting. Far from slopping resin into a mould, casting determines the final look of the piece from the inside out, and requires specialist skills to determine a high finish. Mould-making is such a skilled job that a piece is often sculpted with the sanity of the poor bugger who has to free the cast item from the mould in mind. Fortunately we place our work in the hands of the finest casters in the UK who will tackle the trickiest of shapes so that the form of our pieces can be just as we want without too much compromise.
Our first prototype was cast in our signature bronze finish, and while rather lovely the Librarian wasn’t quite… alive. Knowing our caster to have a talent for finishes Ian cleverly suggested that we try copper instead, and the result is the dog’s doodahs – a beautiful glowing effect that evokes the auburn tones of luxurious orangutan hair.
After our second prototype, we decided that the spell book should have its own distinct finish. After all, books are at the heart of the university and characters in their own right. A hand-painted verdigris finish (as featured on our Great A’Tuin figurine) lifts the book’s ornate embellishments, enhances its status and hints at the magic within its pages.
Three wise m- er, apes! Our protoype Librarians: L to R: bronze, copper & final version with patina (the finish, not the goddess).
As with all our precious metal-finish pieces, the Librarian is produced with LOT of real metal and the very best quality durable resin with a layering of pure copper in the mould to coat the work in glorious shiny copper. Each piece is then antiqued by hand, and the book hand painted with a beautiful patina effect.
The Librarian sits beautifully in the palm of the hand and we hope you’ll agree that the he will look right at home watching over your bookshelf – the ultimate guardian for your Terry Pratchett collection!